02/01 Direct Link
I was struck in the left gluteal muscle with a projectile fired by a cherub. Noticing his intention to continue his assault on others passers-by, I gave chase. He was fast, but lacked endurance, and after several blocks I caught and strangled him.

A previous review of arrows fired by small, wingèd humanoids (Shah et al., 1983) found a large percentage of them had been envenomed with a cocktail of neurotoxins. With this in mind, I presented at the ER. Laboratory tests proved negative. The nurse on duty declared the wound superficial and offered a lollipop, which I declined.

02/02 Direct Link
I can't help but wonder if I shouldn't pick up a drug habit. I'll have to figure out which one is right for me.

At the beginning I would tell myself I'll only do it on Fridays as a way to kick off the weekend, and the main attraction is that life would once again take on a momentum and an impulse that it currently lacks; is it Friday, is it Friday, I can't wait for Friday. The end probably involves peeling me off the sidewalk, but I can't help but wonder if the tradeoff might not be worth it.

02/03 Direct Link
At the restaurant, I offered to go into the kitchen and cook my own lunch. No, sir, no, said the waitress, just sit down and let me bring you something.

I offered to put the sauce on, I wanted to fry the fryables and I stated my vision for the presentation of the dish. I ate quickly and did not sully the napkin. Then I wanted to bus the table and wash it with the special blue spray. I am an independent man and I won't accept help. I paid off their student loans and gave them all peppermint candies.

02/04 Direct Link
At the gift shop of the Spy Museum in DC you can buy these little vials of truth serum. You don't have to show your ID or anything.

I began inviting the important people in my life over to visit, and I put the serum in their tea. Wilson just punched me in the face and left, and Mary curled up in a ball and started to cry. From others I heard scandalous and salacious things, and several unflattering comments were directed at me. The unfiltered truth is as unappealing as a conventional lie, so kids, don't drug your friends.

02/05 Direct Link
My dentist tells me that if I want to have any gums to speak of in my older age, I need to stop brushing so hard. I am guilty of this.

Especially at night, toothbrush in hand, demoralized by the hundred crooked ambiguities of the day, here is something wholesome and pure, and maybe through self-sacrifice and effort I can grind and abrade my way to peace; the fluoride, a cleansing flame, will purge me of my sins and allow me the sleep of the innocent, and I go to work with more than the average level of gusto.

02/06 Direct Link
He was sitting at the table eating crackers. Just jamming them in, completely heedless of the size of the crackers or the capacity of his mouth to hold them. Too disgusted to look, I called him a crumb-bum.

Being four, he was not familiar with the phrase but noted in it an unkind tone. He looked to me for reassurance, and finding none, began to cry.

I am temporarily responsible for your physical safety, I told him. Nowhere does it say I cannot reveal your vices to you or promote the virtues that are important in the adult world.

02/07 Direct Link
No more drinking alone, that's what I told myself. The new directive.

Not because I was drinking too much, but because I was spending too much time alone. As you get older, I am told, it only gets worse. Everybody's married with cracker-crunchers waiting at home.

Even a modest request, like, this evening you should shake up the routine and come with me to a place I know where local sleazebags converge, can I count on your support. Even modest requests of this type are met with the old chestnut "I want to spend more time with my family."

02/08 Direct Link









02/09 Direct Link
The word dog has three letters.

The word dog is a cartoon dog who teaches words to children. He has three letter blocks which he will now place on the table one by one. Children, can you name the word? Pay attention to the word dog, children.

The word 'dog' has three letters.

When we use a word as a word we put it in single quotes for clarity. In the sample sentence, it is obvious we are talking about the word 'dog' and not the aforementioned word dog, that beloved educational maven, that golden good boy of children's edutainment.

02/10 Direct Link
Someone once called my hiccup "cute." She said it sounded like a noise a bunny might make, so I tried to develop a more masculine-sounding hiccup.

If you've never tried this, I can tell you that it is difficult. The hiccup is a brief, involuntary action, and there is little opportunity to add your own personal touch to it. We come into this world with the hiccup nature has given to us.

(As a side note, if you can refrain from making any sort of comment whatsoever to self-conscious people, you will spare us a lot of trouble.)

02/11 Direct Link
Someone is clipping his (I assume it's a guy) nails in the library. The distinctive sound.

*pik* ... *pik* ... *pik*

This is terrible. This is terrible. This is an assault on Western civilization. What of our shared values?

I look up from my book and notice everyone is glancing around for the offender. I make sure both of my hands are in plain sight. (It is not me.)

A young lady sets her book on the table and stands up, peeking around corners. Soon there will be a confrontation. Norms will be enforced and harsh vigilante justice may be carried out.

02/12 Direct Link
What are you hiding? What is the mask you wear every day designed to cover up? I want this info because it is in some ways the most interesting thing about you. When people talk about what makes others 'tick' this is what they mean. All the ticking you're doing is your attempt to distract me from learning something about you.

As for me, here I am writing all these words while still trying to hide whatever I'm ashamed of, and I probably don't always do a very good job, and those little leaks are what make any writing interesting.

02/13 Direct Link
In the latter days of the Cold War, the US government received reports of Soviet hermits living in the woods, growing in wisdom and inner light, giving quests to seekers of truth, and sharing their food with bears.

Concerned there was a hermit gap and eager to project soft power at home, the Pentagon funded the Hermit Assistance Program. Home-grown hermits are an economical investment for the taxpayer as they don't eat much. They support the national interest by holding us all to a higher standard and (possibly) developing a (theorized) spirit-powered beam weapon capable of smiting foes.

02/14 Direct Link
It was -20 degrees outside when I woke up this morning. I wasn't sure whether I had ever experienced such a temperature, so I ran downstairs in my pajamas and opened the door to see how long I could stand it. It made me gasp. It really hurt.

They tell us cold, like darkness, is the absence of something and not a thing in itself, but I felt the physical reality of coldness, I felt it get all the way inside of me, and now, wrapped in a blanket and sipping coffee, I am trying to warm myself back up.

02/15 Direct Link
The worst thing is not having people think you stupid, but having them think you competent. If someone comes to you for advice, you are in trouble.

Probably the right and honest thing to do is to pull them aside at a convenient moment and tell them "Listen, you know I'm an idiot, right? You know I am only just barely holding it together and scared all the time?"

If the other person is also being honest, he will say that is exactly how he feels, and you'll agree it's best if we all suffer through our problems by ourselves.

02/16 Direct Link
on inserting the word 'baby', preceded by a slight pause, after another word

You may call me a square, but I would like to formally announce my opposition to this practice. We live in modern times, and clarity of meaning is as important in our communication now as it has ever been.

Of course, if someone is genuinely your baby, in the sense of an infant or romance partner, addressing the party as such is beyond reproach. I think, however, you will find that such usage does not account for the majority of 'babies' that are so casually tossed around.

02/17 Direct Link
I will outline the basis of my 'baby' opposition in the entries that follow for the remainder of this too-short month.

1) Semantic emptiness.
Q: What are you having for lunch?
A: Peanut butter and jelly, baby!

Except for expressing a mild degree of unnecessary enthusiasm*, the 'baby' in this case does not add anything to the response. Is the respondent calling the questioner his 'baby'? Is he expressing affection or some acknowledgment of responsibility for parental care? He is not.

*This is a rant for another time. A sandwich cannot ever be appropriately described as 'awesome', for example.

02/18 Direct Link
b) Punctuation

People who add the 'baby' online will invariably leave off the comma, typing the response out thusly:

Peanut butter and jelly baby

It is important to understand what they were going for, but to pronounce it as written anyway. Right-thinking people wonder what a "peanut butter and jelly baby" is.

In the UK a 'jelly baby' is a sort of gummy bear, so is it a type of candy? An actual human infant coated in PB&J? And you're going to get all Saturn-devouring-his-son on us and shove the poor thing in your mouth?

02/19 Direct Link
Proponents of 'baby' will now protest and tell us that it is (and here I can barely overcome my disgust long enough to curl my fingers into disdainful air quotes) "fun."

But "fun" is not the basis of our society or our moral virtues.

"Fun" is, indeed, a slippery incline that leads directly to the gaping maw of Hell. It is the only leg upon which the "babies" stand.

To them I say, "I will not see 'baby' tumble from the noble and lofty tree-top upon which it now rocks, brought low by the wind of your vulgar informality!"

02/20 Direct Link
Today I've decided to tell you about my kettle. The top is made of stainless steel and the bottom is copper.

I bought it (probably my Mom bought it) around 1999. It has brought me nice hot drinks and water for instant noodles at least twice a day since then, and there it sits on my stove, ready for more.

I am fond of this kettle in a way that I am not fond of anything else that I own. When I moved from Albany, it rode in the car with me because I didn't trust the movers with it.

02/21 Direct Link
Several months ago I wrote an entry complaining about the shrill way the kettle whistles, and it is true that I do not like that. But you can dislike one thing about a kettle and still be fond of it.

It rarely whistles anyway, because I have learned its moods. I know the whispering sound it makes when it is halfway ready to boil, and the purring sound it makes when it is thirty seconds from boiling. When it starts to shake slightly, I am already standing there to pull it off the heat, and it just goes "WOO-wooooo..."

02/22 Direct Link
I was preparing a fruit snack when the phone rang.

Someone from the world outside of my five senses wanted to merge his or her reality with mine. My perceptions and worldview would be challenged by the encounter, even if it was just someone asking if I needed any magazine subscriptions. I decided not to take the risk and I went back to chopping.

I wrapped myself in the big green blanket and brought my snack to the couch. I turned on the radio and began my process of recovering from Monday, which does not involve talking on the phone.

02/23 Direct Link
At some point you might be lucky enough to have someone in the room with you who is both a physicist and a good communicator. This person might start talking about relativity in an engaging way, so that after a few minutes and a few examples, you start to see our universe differently and your head explodes.

But after you've gone home and start thinking about it again, the understanding starts to slip. Light does what? Space is like what? Gravity is like whaaaaaa??? Your mind slowly becomes unblown as you revert to your sixth-grade model of the universe.

02/24 Direct Link
I spent a few hours in one of the bars in my town, hoping to socialize a bit. I overheard an argument over the pronunciation of 'sláinte', the Gaelic toast. One guy had toasted another guy, and the other guy said he had pronounced it wrong. Bar patrons gathered around to participate in the process.

I didn't get the impression any of them were native Gaelic speakers, and so in the absence of facts, they had chosen candidates based on other factors, like which guy they found more trustworthy, or which one they preferred to have a beer with.

02/25 Direct Link
There's a woman I know who lives in downtown Albany, and when I would bump into her on the sidewalk she would sometimes pull a jar of jam out of her purse.

"I've been carrying this around in case I bump into you," she would say.

If she didn't have any jam in her purse, she would say, "Oh no, I don't have the jam!" Then she would send me an e-mail saying, "It was nice to see you today, and why didn't I give you the promised jam?"

Thus "the promised jam" entered my list of favorite phrases.

02/26 Direct Link

?: Did this really happen?
-: Yes!

?: How many times?
-: At least four.

?: Does she have a crush on you or something?
-: She is happily married with two delightful children. I think distributing jam just makes her happy.

?: So she does this for other people?
-: Yes.

?: Was her jam good?
-: It was delicious, and she made some unusual flavors, like mango lime jalapeño.

?: Now that you no longer live in Albany, does she still deliver jam?
-: No. The promise of jam has been rescinded.

?: But you still get jam on a random schedule in your new town, right?
-: No.

02/27 Direct Link
"Bug Buddy"(TM) is a small nano-robot the size of a flea that zips around your apartment and vaporizes bugs.

You can pull up a report of how many and which bugs your "Bug Buddy"(TM) has vaporized. Mine got 30 centipedes and 20 spiders last year, and Ian's only got 10 of each. Ian had to buy me a burrito for that one.

In the future, we know the "Bug Buddy"(TM) will get outdoors and kill every insect it finds, setting off an ecological nightmare the likes of which the world will never have seen. It's neat.

02/28 Direct Link
I can make a crêpe. It is a new skill. Preserved fruit from last summer can be gently placed inside of the crêpe, and we can roll it up and (optionally) dust the top with sugar. I'll make one for you if you like, and I will appreciate it if you say "holy crêpe" after taking a bite. I would like that a lot.

I sometimes like to pretend that I am in exile, and some day I will return to civilization. I am working on skills, like crêpe-making, that will serve me well in better days to come.

02/29 Direct Link
I made certain topics off limits to myself this month, and I feel this month was better than the last one for it.

I would like to say I will never write about these topics again, but I can't make that promise. There's a reason I keep going back to them, and the reason is that they are easy.

They say putting restraints on yourself improves your ability to think creatively. That's one of the great things about the 100words format, but once you get used to that maybe you need to find some other restraints to place upon yourself.